Lean Question

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    Friday Afternoon Lean Question:  Sometime back I was given a project to purchase some new Parts washing equipment for our machining operations. The shop consist of 11 seperate Machining centers and 10 cnc lathes and Vertical mills, along with some small specialized equipment. The current operation consist of 13 washers that are conveyor style technology and really in bad shape. The first step in the process, which was driven from the completion of another SS project, was to quantify part cleanliness. This was a very difficult task, and thanks to alot of information from John Deere and Caterpillar I was able to conclude a cleanliness spec. From that I went after the technology to get the spec I wanted at the budget that was set forth in the project.
    My conclusion was to purchase 1 centralized washer that would be located near a  Kanban Area (FIFO) for the finished frames. Traffic through this peice of equipment would exceed 500k per week. In doing this We would eliminate 23 people from the operation and the ROI and IRR of return where both less than 9 months plus the intangibles of having cleaner parts, plus less environmental waste. When I presented the project to the VP of operations he flipped his wig saying he wanted a lean concept and this was not lean. So I went back and presented a project based on the requirments of the spec. and what the VP wanted and the projected ROI is about 5 years and no elimination of people in the cell. All of Savings are based on Hypothetical intangibles.
    Question: Does it matter how you get your product to the Kanban FIFO? Either by one machine or by several machines. Note: The Kanban area is not going to change, anytime in the next 7years anyway.
    I was taught early on that an Hour glass effect in Lean was very efficient and Kanban triggers are much easier to manage from one central point. Am I Way off base or what? All comments welcome.



    Dear Ct,
    I think your Boss was right…
    such centralized huge machines are called “monuments” in lean terms.
    As usual I woulld like to ask some questions, and may be helpful for you if you can find the answers.
    1. Have you calculated your process takt time? What is the cycle time for the washing process?
    ( Takt Time : Available Time/Customer Demand Rate)
    2. Have you mapped your value stream ?
    ( Since you have defined cleanliness , how many washing steps are really required in the process)
    3. Those 15 washing conveyers you have mentioned, is it in series or in parallel?
    One more Tip :
    Please read about a case study on a Grinding Process in Pratt & Whitney in the book ” The Lean Thinking” by Womack & Jones. That article will give you a lot of insights..
    Please keep us posted.



    I guess the obvious answer is, of course, this is Lean. You reduced 13 machines to 1, eliminated 23 positions, and set up 1 Kanban instead of 13.
    It sounds more like a territorial issue – I’d venture a guess that the VP has either been around a while or has some other stake in the current setup. Maybe the project was his initially?
    I’ve found projects that involve reduction of positions and/or machinery to be the most difficult to implement politically.
    Not much you can do, excpet present the numbers as convincingly as possibly – and realize that not everyone is as commited to continuous improvement as much say they are (or even as much as they believe they are.)



    Amazing Insight Jimmie, Yes the VP did have a stake at an earlier time. He was the Plant manager for the company that this equipment was in and from what I have been told, he did most of the work in setting up the shop. A lot of Politics here, so Even though I know it’s not the right thing to do, moving forward with plan B. And let the numbers speak for there self. From there it’s a simple business decision on his part.

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